I admit that I was one of those poor saps who wandered over to the “new paperbacks” section and saw this cut-out image and wondered what book this was. Then I read today’s LA Times Piece and got it:
The paperback publisher of Tom Wolfe’s unevenly reviewed latest novel “I Am Charlotte Simmons” is hoping that a dramatically redesigned cover–and a youth-oriented marketing campaign, complete with a contest featuring a trip to Cancun–will help draw young adults to the book, mocked by some reviewers who found the septuagenarian author’s accounts of campus sex life unconvincing.
Oddly, the cover of the paperback, omits the name of the novel altogether. “Big publicity and marketing campaigns for big authors are to be expected,” said Michael Cader, the editor of two industry publications, Publishers Marketplace and Publishers Lunch. But “a paperback cover that has the author’s name in huge letters and neglects to include the book’s title at all is very unexpected, and very unusual.”
Darin Keesler, marketing director of Picador USA, the novel’s paperback publisher, said that the decision to leave the title off the cover was partly a design issue, partly a nod to Wolfe’s fame. “We were able to do it because Tom Wolfe is in many ways a brand, a star.”
Well sure, but there’s one fundamental problem with this: the fabulous teen/college crowd that they want to market to? Most of them couldn’t care less who Tom Wolfe is. Why not leave his name off and just have it written by Charlotte Simmons?
Still, Picador has grand plans for the paperback tour, even if the description keeps causing me to giggle convulsively:
On Wednesday, Wolfe, 74, still plans to read from the novel at New York’s Cooper Union with Touré, a 34-year-old novelist and pop culture commentator who has worked for MTV and CNN and whose work Wolfe admires. (“He is–if you can imagine this–Oscar Wilde as street thug,” Wolfe said last May.)
Yeah, use that as a blurb there,Touré.